At the train station on that late afternoon two days after, I decided to sit on one of the benches of Platform #5 to wait for the azan (Muslim call to ritual prayer, also used to mark the time to start and to finish the fast)—it was still the last day of Ramadan, after all. I glanced and smiled to a woman on the next bench before I sat and put my bags down. It didn't took her another couple of minutes to try making conversation with me.
She started with casual topics; my destination (it happened to be the same with hers, the goddamn capital), my occasion to go there, what I'd been doing away from there, etc. I said that I'm a student of GMU (it kinda startled her she even responded with "Eh? You are? Quite bright, huh..."—made me thinking if I really look that absentminded) and was heading to the capital to spend Id ul-Fitr at home. I thought it'd only be one brief chat, but somewhere I knew I was wrong when she started to space out and said that it must had been great for me to spend my vacation away in such a festive mood (like hell, yeah! *rolls eyes*)...
She said she went to Yogya (-karta in full, the city on southern coast of Java where I currently live to study at GMU) on account of a bad circumstance—her older brother was struck dead by some underaged dork who didn't even have a license yet (and I just couldn't help not to imagine he rode that bike without a helmet on also) some couple of days before, so she had to help handling the procedures, processions and whatnots. I was speechless to watch her abruptly telling me, a complete stranger who randomly happened to sit next to her, with such teary eyes and faltering voice out of irrepressible pain within. She said she was awfully upset and wanted to rage at the culprit but all at once realized that it'd be in vain, she eventually let her resentment go. It could never bring a lost life back.
What that woman told me kinda pierced me, actually. I've always been slightly more sentimental than usual by the end of Ramadans, anxiously wonder if I ever get to the next Ramadan as some people I once knew would never be able to. Did Mr Firin and Trappy ever think the same way just like me now, on their last Ramadan? I don't know about that. One thing for sure: they didn't know how and when would they die, and neither do I and that weeping woman about ours. The truth is, nobody knows about theirs. Who knew whether we, who'd board on that very train, could make it to our own stopping places safely or not that night?
My thoughts flew even further. What's the use of our yet-unrealized dreams, our yet-unfulfilled promises, our yet-achieved accomplishments, everything we've said or done, to us when our time to die has come? Would I give a damn that I've always wanted to perform my music and marry a man I love and make movies based on my scripts, or that I once said to my mom I'd graduate by the age of 22 and take her to an around-the-world trip, or that I used to have flying colors back in the old school days? When we die, what would be left of us might only a column of obituaries in the local paper, a single sentence or two from the mosque's speakers, or a line of names on "list of victims". What (can) we bring along from this earthly world, then? Nothing. Everything we considered to be hell-damn important when we were still alive would unexpectedly become meaningless to us when we die.
Around 5:30, our train came and we parted. That woman and her husband would be on coach #7, I'd be on #8. In an unnecessary hurry (since our departure would still be at 6:30) that woman had pushed him into, her husband sympathetically asked if I'd be by myself. I was saying yes when she cut in, "It's okay, she's settled in after all," and dragged him into their coach.
Instead of yelling, "WTF? I only told you that I'm the last child and that both my brother and sister are married and settled down already, it's not like my life's gonna be at ease all the way! I'm not even graduated yet and still a clueless brat, for God's sake," which was in my mind, I just smiled at their backs. Did she really think that I was perfectly free from the errors of this fallible life? Did she really think that no one had suffered the same way she had or even worse than that? She must had had a wrong perception of the world around her, so I thought, as I made my way into the train. Soon aware that my coach was completely empty, I sighed and sank myself onto one of the godforsaken seats. Noticed that the awaited azan had been ascended sometime ago, I broke my fast.
I thanked God for some company I found after I carried out my adjoined salat (the ritual prayer of Muslims, performed five times daily in a set form, some of which are acceptable to be adjoined for people under the circumstances such as long journey wherein it'd be inconvenient to do it as normal)—I didn't really have anything to do with them and they remained anonymous to me, but it was better than to be on my own the whole night (it was nothing but a matter of loneliness; I'm not a scaredy-cat, JFYI). Free and easy as could be thanks to the small number of passengers, I stretched my legs to rest them onto the seat before mine.
The high-spiritedness outside my window as the train made its way through the celebrating towns seemed to be just like those reproduced images we see on TV. We know that the voices and people are real (they're not dummies with ventriloquists), yet we just cannot break into the screen and join the broadcasted show—it's so close we can touch their faces with our fingertips, yet it's the exact distance of space and time that makes us able to do so.
I read my Qur'an, I ate my packed dinner, I drank from my canteen—I was idly wondering what to do next when I noticed these people passing by the aisle. I wondered what kind of things these staffs—the machinist, the conductors, the stewards and stewardesses—do on the train. How many hours a day, how many days a week, how many weeks a month, how many months a year do they spend on the train? What do they think about their job? I wondered if they feel worn-out. I wondered if there ever any significant profit these hawkers—beggars not included, sorry—gain from selling those sundries on the train. How many hours a day, how many days a week, how many weeks a month, how many months a year do they spend on the train? What do they think about their job? I wondered if they feel worn-out. I was thinking if there was someone who felt the same way as I did—that we shouldn't had been here, on this routinely straightforward train, when we should had been enveloped with the warmth of our beloved ones at home. My fellow passengers, train staffs, hawkers, anyone? Some passengers were talking intimately to each other, an unoccupied staff was lighting a cigarette while calling with his cellphone, hawkers were too busy offering their goods—nobody seemed to mind anything.
For I'd realized that I was the only wimpy chicken around, I turned back to my window. In an instant, my eyes caught one of the views I love—lights from the windows of the houses. The sight of those lights had always made me wonder what kind of people who live in that house, that other house besides it, another house over there, and so on. What they were doing, what they were talking about? I hoped those people were safe and sound—that idea had always been an encouragement for myself to continue my own way back home.
I laid my head against the glass of my window and tried to sleep amidst the laughter those passengers were sharing and the smoke of that unoccupied staff's cigarette and the hawkers' shouts. Maybe it's neither a beautiful nor an easy life, maybe it's either an ugly or difficult life, whichever, we're meant to embrace it as it is. Everyone does cry and smile sometimes, but we breathe at all those times. No matter how unsettling the matters we left behind, no matter how unclear the place we head to, we're definitely moving now. I so want to believe that I am actually a part of the world outside my window, I wished, as I lullabied myself with familiar tunes.
People said, "Home is where the heart is," but I'd say, "Heart is where the home is," just in case I could never return from my journey.